Presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao (Photo by Benjamin Cuaresma)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — MP3 Alliance standard-bearer Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao expressed agreement with the Department of Health (DoH) that there is no need to close our borders or lengthen the mandatory quarantine for international travelers even with the detection of the first cases of the worrisome Covid-19 Omicron variant in the country.
On Thursday, December 16, health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire had said that current border controls and quarantine protocols were working to prevent the entry of highly transmissible viruses such as the Delta and now the Omicron variants.
“We cannot close our borders to the rest of the world. We need to understand how this will affect our economy and foreign relations (though) public health is our priority,” Vergeire explained during a virtual press briefing.
In agreement, Pacquiao said that apart from strictly monitoring the entry of travelers from other countries, what seems more important is for the public to follow the minimum health safety protocols set by the health authorities in order to be sure that our countrymen are well-protected from infection, especially with the threat of the more contagious Omicron mutation of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 or SARS-Cov-2.
“Ang mahalaga ay sundin natin iyong pagsususot ng face mask at pag-iwas sa mga crowded area dahil dito madalas nagkakahawa-hawa ang mga tao kapag nagkakadikit-dikit tapos hindi pa sinusunod iyong mga health safety protocol,” the People’s Champ pointed out.
“Hindi dapat tayo maging kampante dahil hindi pa nagwawakas ang pandemya at may banta pa ng bagong Omicron variant kaya mas makakabuti kung ang bawat isa sa atin ay nag-iingat para maiwasang magkasakit, hindi lamang ng Covid-19 kundi iyong iba pang mga viral infection na maaaring maging sanhi na tayo ay mas madaling dapuan ng coronavirus,” he added.
Going back to the issue of closely monitoring the country’s borders, Vergeire clarified that “for now, it is not rational to close our borders on countries that have just one case.”
However, she noted that strict border control measures must be continued for countries with local transmissions of the Omicron variant because this meant that the disease was spreading in those places.
Based on data from the health department, 79 nations have already reported local Omicron cases, of which 34 have confirmed or suspected local transmission. Only eight countries—Andorra, France, Monaco, Northern Mariana Islands, Réunion, San Marino, South Africa and Switzerland—are in the Philippines’ ‘red list’ of high-risk countries, down from 14 at the start of the month. (ai/mtvn)